science fiction

Portal 2 Cosplay: Finalizing the long fall boot patterns

Hey, nerds, and welcome (back) to TFG! This post is a continuation of my first pattern-making adventure, so I suggest you read that one first.
My last post concluded with the creation of my master pattern, which is basically a 2D-ization of all the pieces I’m going to need to construct the plastic parts of Chell’s long fall boots. The final boots will consist of four different pieces (two of which will be more or less fused together, so you can call it three pieces if you want), so my next step was to use my master pattern to construct the patterns I’ll need to make the smaller components of the boots.
First, I got ahold of the half-pattern that I used to make the two-sided pattern that I’ll be using in this post.

Here's all the patterns I'll be using, side by side.

Here’s all the patterns I’ll be using, side by side.

The first thing I did was make a pattern for the piece that will be under the others on the front of the shoe. (Look at this reference pic; you’ll know what I mean.) Ignoring the back piece and the strap that goes across the front of the foot, I added half an inch to the edge of the piece, traced it, and cut it out. It’s always better for your patterns to be too big than too small; you can cut away extra material, but it’s really hard to add it back.

I traced the piece that will go in the front of the boot, under the other pieces.

I traced half an inch around the front piece.

I then cut it out.

Then I cut it out. 

I set that piece aside for a while and got to work on the outer pieces of the boot.
I took the master pattern that I made in my last post, cut off the parts that will be made using the pattern I made in the last paragraph, and separated the two pieces I’ll be using.

After cutting off the toe and ankle piece.

After cutting off the toe and ankle piece.

I split the piece along the lines.

I split the piece along the lines.

Instead of keeping the ankle strap as two separate pieces, I taped the two patterns together, connecting the sides of the pattern that will be on the bottom of the shoe.

Masking tape is my friend.

Masking tape is my friend.

This is the part where I miscalculated and ended up spending forty-five minutes fine-tuning a pattern that I didn’t even need. I won’t post any pictures of it, because it’s not worth your time to read, but here’s the moral of the story: when making two patterns that will connect to each other, check how they actually connect before you decide that one of them is too small.
So, anyway, my next REAL step was to connect the new taped-up lower pattern with the pattern for the calf plate. It made a nice curve around the heel, which means that it’ll look even better when it’s made of thermoplastic and not cheap posterboard. I put it on the boot to see if it would fit. With a few adjustments to the lower piece, it did.
I detached the two pieces from each other and got to work on the third piece.
I traced my cutout piece on my posterboard to make an identical cutout piece. I taped them together along the top of the foot to make a shape that was really awkward when made out of posterboard, but will look a lot better when it’s made of Worbla.

It lays really strangely, but it fits the boot.

It lays really strangely, being posterboard and all, but it fits.

My next step was to make sure I’d made all the patterns correctly. Using masking tape (which is the only tape you should use for this step, since it’s easily cuttable/tearable/removable), I attached all the pieces to each other the way they will be on the final piece, and put it on. I didn’t get any pictures of this stage, since it was kind of hard to hold together properly (being paper and all), but the important part is that it worked.

Here’s a picture of all of my final patterns, side by side.

patternsfinal

The one on the bottom looks like some kind of underwear, but it’s functional.

And there you have it!

Another thing I did was decide what materials I’m going to be using for each part. For the calf plate, I’ll be using this stuff called Sintra, which is basically foamed-up PVC, meaning that it’s tough, flexible, and holds its shape, but its density is low enough to be moldable when it’s heated up. For the other two pieces, I intended to use Worbla (which is magical stuff – if you’re into cosplay, you’ve probably already heard of it), but it ended up being way too thin to look okay with the relatively thick 3mm Sintra. So, instead of using Worbla alone, I decided to use craft foam and then cover it with Worbla afterward, to make it stiff, paintable, and more easily shaped.

It’s always a good idea to try before you buy, though, so using the little bit of each material I already have (and the craft foam I ordered off of Amazon today), I’ll experiment and make my final decision before I go to the trouble of purchasing the rest of the materials I’ll need.

Stay tuned for updates on this project!

Portal 2 Cosplay: Making a long fall boot pattern

It’s late September, and you know what that means!
(If you guessed my birthday, well, you’re right, but that’s not quite what I was talking about.)
It’s time to start thinking about next year’s ComicCon cosplay!
Yeah, okay, maybe it’s not for another nine months, but for those of us who work slowly and want to pay attention to detail, it’s time to begin.
Over summer break, my gaming obsession was the Portal series. I’d heard some pretty epic things about it before, but I never got around to playing it until Steam’s fourth of July sale. I saw I could get both Portal games for five bucks, so I thought, why not? It’s only five bucks either way.
It was even more awesome than I expected.
Now, this isn’t a review, this is a cosplay DIY tutorial/walkthrough/demonstration, so let’s get started.
Here’s a picture of the character I’ll be cosplaying as:

Chell is the protagonist of the Portal series; I'll be cosplaying as the Portal 2 version of the character.

Chell is the protagonist of the Portal series; I’ll be cosplaying as the Portal 2 version of the character.

I decided to tackle the long fall boots first.
It took me a while to find a good pair of shoes to use for the structure of the boots. Target and Walmart yielded nothing; it was too early in the year to find cheap knee boots. I didn’t find adequate shoes at Payless, but I magically found a pair of gray leggings with a blue band at the top (who would’ve thunk they even made those?) and snatched them up in about two seconds.
I finally ended up going to Amazon. It took a while, but I finally found a pair of boots in the right size and color, with an accurately sized heel and platform, for only $7.

They're extraordinarily cheap and not exactly the prettiest, but they're perfect for the purpose.

They’re extraordinarily cheap and not exactly the prettiest, but they’re perfect for the purpose.

First I had to cut off the little buckles at the top. They didn’t serve any purpose except looking pretty, so it wasn’t a problem.
Some people make their sewing and crafting patterns by measuring and eyeballing the shape. Not me. Not only are my math skills questionable, but, since the boots’ design is slick and geometric, symmetry is a must.
Instead of wearing the boot to make it hold its shape, I stuffed it with Walmart bags.
standing

No plastic bags were harmed during the making of this cosplay. As of now, anyway.

No plastic bags were harmed during the making of this cosplay. As of now, anyway.

I then proceeded to cover it with tissue paper, and then with masking (or painter’s) tape. DON’T skip the tissue paper, because if you do, your pattern will be stuck to the boot, and something is going to get torn if you try to take it off.

My majestic mummy boot.

My majestic mummy boot.

Using the seams as a guide, I drew two Sharpie lines down the front and back of the boot.

That's my hand. Isn't it cute?

That’s my hand. Isn’t it cute?

And now comes the tricky part: drawing on the details. Using this reference image, I began to draw the lines that will be used to cut out each piece of the boot, carefully measuring each line to make sure they were equidistant from their respective sides of the shoe.
But seriously, curves are hard to do. The boot wasn’t symmetrical, and one side looked way better than the other.
So I decided to do the half-a-pattern technique. I’d make one half of the pattern, trace it, flip it over, and trace it again, to make a mirrored outline of the pattern. I’d cut it out, and it would be perfectly symmetrical without my having to measure a single thing.
And then came my second screw-up. Since now I was only drawing half a boot, I grossly underestimated the size of the plate on the back of the calf. And I cut the pattern off of the boot before I noticed.
I fixed this problem by taping up just the top half of the boot, cutting the messed-up part off of the finished pattern, and taping the usable portion of the latter back onto the boot. I ended up with a sort of franken-pattern.
Why am I telling you this instead of pretending it didn’t happen? So you know what NOT to do. No lasting harm was done to my cosplay (other than a wasted thirty minutes of pattern fixing), but yours will go a lot more smoothly if you don’t make the same mistakes I did.

The "finished" taped-up boot (before I fixed the undersized calf piece). Ignore the misplaced line on the bottom of the ankle piece; that was for measuring purposes only.

The “finished” taped-up boot (before I fixed the undersized calf piece). Ignore the misplaced line on the bottom of the ankle piece; that was for measuring purposes only.

Once my pattern was REALLY finished up, I cut off the unnecessary taped portions (the front of the top and the toe, where the original boot will show through or be cut away) and traced it onto a piece of posterboard, adding an extra half inch or so on the edges that will wrap around the boot (namely the front of the foot and the back of the calf). I traced the lines accordingly (all except the little slit on the side of the foot, which I’ll add on later), mirrored the cutout as described above, and made a two-sided pattern. I wrapped it around the boot for size, adjusted a little, and the pattern was done!

The final product!

The final product!

This is a master template for the patterns I’ll need to cut the material for the long-fall boot. Since I’ll be making the boot in three pieces (the back of the calf, the top piece of the ankle, and the bottom piece of the ankle and foot), I’ll need to use this pattern to create the others.
The next step is to create the smaller patterns and find out how much material I’ll need for each.
Stay tuned for more updates on my project!

TFG Movie Reviews: Allegiant

I saw this movie on Friday (which was apparently opening day!) with the decently awesome cousin of mine who goes by Celestia on the Internet. According to my dad, the reviews were (and still are) horrible – one out of many examples he gave me was that only 10% of Rotten Tomatoes reviewers said it was worth seeing. Still, it was something to do besides levelling my World of Warcraft character (ah, but that’s for another post), and I got to have pizza and cheesecake, so I went.

I have to say, I’m not sorry I saw it. It’s not an inherently bad movie. There were some things about it that I would never say were great, but if you’re looking for something to do, here you go.

I’ve heard people say that the story was bad. That’s not wholly true. Maybe the execution wasn’t amazing, but I thought the base storyline itself wasn’t bad. (I’ve heard before that I’m too easy to please to be a reviewer. We’ll see about that.) It’s a pretty cool premise: an isolated, ruined city, divided into five factions that dictate everything from the clothes you wear to the way you spend your leisure time, that, as it transpires (boop boop, spoiler alert!) is actually an experiment set up by a bureau of geneticists that are trying to “breed out” of humanity damaged genes that were put there by the world’s own governments.
While the story wasn’t bad, I thought it was pretty butchered in the movie as opposed to the book. In particular, the characters. Book Tris’s faction aptitude was evenly split among Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), and Erudite (the smart). Emphasis on that last one. If, without knowing the story, I had to guess which faction was chosen for her, I’d say that the aptitude test was so fed-up with dealing with Movie Tris’s idiocy that it shut itself down and told her to just go factionless. Seriously. I can think of multiple examples where simple truths had to be shoved in Movie Tris’s face for her to comprehend them. Really, Tris, Tori is dead, screaming her name over and over for five minutes isn’t going to help. No, Tris, Four cannot come with you upstairs. No, you can’t come together. Seriously, why is that difficult to understand? Tris, don’t trust David. Yes, we get that he told you he’s good, but people can lie, Tris. There are a hundred and one reasons not to trust him, but I don’t expect you to be able to understand any of them.

Maybe it was bad acting, maybe it was bad writing, maybe it was just that Shailene Woodley didn’t have the IQ to empathize with an only moderately smart character like Book Tris. That movie could have spared itself from countless critics’ harshness if it had only cast someone different.

Another character whom I think the movies kind of skewed was Peter. I’ve never seen movies one and two, only read the books, so I knew all the characters but not what they looked like in the movies. It wasn’t too hard to distinguish Tris, Four, Caleb, Christina, or even Tori, but Peter, although he looked decently accurate, was so different where personality is concerned that it took me a sizable chunk of the movie to make the connection. Movie Peter was a lot more likable than Book Peter, for one thing. He’s not a guy I can picture executing people for Jeanine or stabbing dudes in the eye for no reason other than that they were stronger than him.

While several of the characters weren’t up to scratch, the pretty 2016 effects were actually quite good. Futuristic dystopian movies like the Hunger Games (which were, by the way, better than the Divergent trilogy) always provide a lot of opportunities for cool space-age effects, and Allegiant didn’t disappoint. Although the storywriters/adapters could’ve gone with a little less pay than they probably got, the special effects teams, at least, seem to have had an adequate budget.

A lot of my movie reviews are based on accuracy to the book they’re based on, so here comes that part of my review.  There were a lot of little things the movie changed for the sake of conciseness (like Tori’s death, for instance), and that’s understandable.  But the most major difference I and Celestia noticed was the ending.

(WARNING:  The upcoming part of the review pertains only to people who have read the book, who are the only people who care if the movie was true to the book, anyway.   If you’re reading this review and trying to decide if you ought to see the movie or not, you should probably skip the next couple of paragraphs.)

At the end of the book called Allegiant, instead of shooting up a few pipes to solve the movie’s problems, Tris had to break into the laboratory that was formerly Jeanine Matthews’s to disable the memory serum that was about to wipe the minds of everyone in Chicago.  This might’ve been able to go without a hitch if it hadn’t been protected by a lethal dose of death serum.  Caleb, Tris’s brother, was ready to sacrifice himself to save Chicago in atonement for his support of Jeanine, but Tris took his place, disabling the flow of the memory serum and effectively killing herself.

There are, from what I can see, a few contributing factors to the directors’ decision to change the ending.  One is that they want to get just a little more money out of the Divergent franchise before it’s over, airing the fourth movie, Ascendant (how is that even going to work?  The plot has nowhere left to go), and they couldn’t do that if they killed off their protagonist.

Another is that, like at the end of The Giver, they didn’t want to end the movie on a dismal note.  People who go to the movies for a good story generally don’t have the same standards as people who go to a book for the same thing:  while readers might be looking for a darker, more poignant tale, moviegoers would rather see their triumphant hero defeat his or her adversary without serious personal sacrifice.  There are, of course, a few exceptions (I don’t envy whoever had to produce Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix), but the Divergent series – the movies, anyway – appeal to a different audience.

Maybe the directors knew that Shailene Woodley was too stupid to even pretend to figure anything out in a lab, so they had her break some stuff instead.  Okay, maybe not, but it’s fun to imagine.

Anyway, as a final rating, I’d give Allegiant three out of five stars.  It probably could have won back one, maybe two stars if it hadn’t been for the lead actress.  It was enjoyable to watch where the story and especially the effects were concerned, but by the time it was over and that rather catchy song came on (I like Tove Lo’s music), I wasn’t sure how much more Shailene Woodley I could take.

Thanks for reading and checking out my blog!  If you found this post informative, helpful, or plain enjoyable, I’d like it if you gave it a like and a nice rating.  If you didn’t like it, I give you permission to give me a bad rating.  (That’s why there are five stars, after all.)

~ Summer

Edit: In addition, I found this hilariously awesome video that gives you a pretty decent idea of what the movie is about. I recommend you check it out.

Dragonborn – a few excerpts I’m proud of

Hey, guys, and welcome to Teen Fiction Girl! NaNoWriMo ended more than a month ago, and I met and exceeded my word count goal of 50,000 words in one month, but I’m still working on my novel, a piece called Dragonborn. (You can read my earlier post about it here.)
It’s already 309 pages long, and I’d say I’m about halfway through the story. I’ve done a bit more work on the cover; I found a new font that I really like, and I think I’m going to use it instead of the scrawly one that I was already using. But this post isn’t about fonts, it’s about cool excerpts.

If you write, you’ve probably written a paragraph (or two or three) that you’re exceptionally proud of. If not, you should be proud of the stuff you’ve written, because even starting to write a novel is something to be proud of in and of itself. I’ve written a few things that I’m exceptionally proud of, too, and it makes me happy that I have a blog to share them on.

Out of context, these excerpts might seem a little mixed since the story happens in so many places, but I’ll put them in chronological order to make them a little easier.

They’re never going to let me go if I let them chase me until I get back to my house. Dropping the bag with the bread onto the ground beside me, taking care not to spoil the precious food, I spin around to face them, putting on my best menacing look.
“What’s wrong?” sneered the dumb one. “The quick little bird is too tired to fly?”
“No,” I say, groaning inwardly. Snappy comebacks are harder to come up with when you’re focusing on looking for a nice soft spot to punch. “I’m not a bird.”

“If you’d let me finish what I was saying,” Glyssa goes on, glaring at Ambrosia, “you wouldn’t be so indignant. Of course I’ll help you, too. What, you think I’m going to break one of you out and leave the other to die?”
“I don’t know, you’re pretty good at leaving us to die,” I say. With Glyssa safely on our side, I figure that it’s safe to start antagonizing her again.

“What if we hid outside of the Union? They couldn’t legally arrest us if we weren’t on their turf, right? Then again, I guess these people don’t care much about legal, but we could still hide out somewhere.”
“It would be a good idea if we knew of anywhere outside the Union to hide out,” says Glyssa with a shrug. “Unfortunately, the only top-secret location outside the Union that I know of is the one that you two set fire to this morning.”
“That would be a bad place to hide,” I agree.

I close my eyes. It all started when I was about eight years old, living in a village on the very edge of Athria, on the western border of the Union. To say that the place was a bit wild would be a dramatic understatement. It was completely feral. My own father had been killed in a fight with a bear; my mother couldn’t be bothered to care for me. I figured this out when I was very little. Sometimes I’d tell her that I loved her just to figure out what kind of mood she was in. Sometimes she said nothing at all. The other times she’d give a heavy sigh and say, “I love you too, Finn.”
But even then, I could tell she was lying.

Maybe I’ll post some more excerpts in the future.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoy my writing, I’d love it if you’d leave a like and maybe a nice rating. You can also subscribe (via wordpress or email) if you want to see more things I post in the future. Feedback and constructive criticism are always welcome as well.

Thanks,
~ Summer

Movie Reviews: Mockingjay, Part 2

**WARNING:  This post will contain a fair number of spoilers.  If you’ve read the books, come on in, but if you’re new to the Hunger Games story, I recommend you skip to the end for the final rating.**

Anyway, hey all, and welcome to Teen Fiction Girl!  I’m fairly certain that I reviewed Catching Fire when it came out a couple of years ago (although I could very well be wrong) and this movie was as worth a review as any of its predecessors.

I’ll start with talking about the plot of the movie.  There were very few slip-ups where book/movie continuity is concerned.  The main thing that the movie producers changed was Katniss’s method of getting into the Capitol – in the book, she was authorized to go, whilst in the movie, she snuck in.  I don’t know which I prefer:  the book is the book, after all, but the movie’s method allowed for a little further development of Katniss, President Coin, and Plutarch Heavensbee as they plotted to make Katniss’s deviance appear to be their idea.  (Speaking of him, I remembered about halfway through the movie that the actor playing him was dead.  Luckily, there were no awkward mid-movie actor switches or anything; I think they covered it up rather well.)

I thought the two-part conclusion was going to end up like The Hobbit movies were – so stretched out in an effort to make more money that they were tedious and not even kind of like the books – but I think, all in all, I liked the two-part movie better than its single-sectioned predecessors.  The scenes in the Capitol were quite true to the book, right down to the type of pod they encountered and the members of Squad 451, which I’d have thought the producers would have considered too minor to include.  The death of the Leeg sisters was a little different in the movie than in the book, but the end effect was the same, so I hardly consider this a point of conflict.  They even included the girl in the lemon-yellow coat.

Katniss and Peeta’s relationship seemed perfectly natural to me; she seemed to push him away at first but finally realized what she was doing wrong.  Although I rather dislike Peeta as a character (I’m on Team Gale for sure), Josh Hutcheson’s acting was superb.  Especially in the conclusion, he played his part well, although I think that Katniss looked a little funny as a mom, to tell the truth.

The last and most obvious of the movie’s shortcomings was the conclusion of the war.  In the book, Katniss witnesses the death of her sister, nearly burns to death, murders the president, gets locked up at the top of the tribute tower for months on end, starts singing to herself like a madwoman, and eventually becomes suicidal before returning to District 12.  In the movies, only a few of these things happened:  Prim did indeed die and President Coin was indeed assassinated, but they made Katniss’s… ah… decline much milder.  Her burns were nowhere near fatal and there was no oncoming insanity.

I’m usually a lover of accuracy, but I’ll admit I enjoyed seeing the producers’ version of things more than I enjoyed reading Suzanne Collins’s.  If you were looking for a carbon copy of the book, you won’t find exactly what you’re looking for, but I think, on the whole, the story itself was great.

As for the production of the movie itself, I wasn’t disappointed in any way.  The characters all looked exactly as they should.  I was especially impressed by the camera team and President Coin – they looked identical to their book versions.  The camerawork was flawless, the soundtrack was great, and the effects were simply amazing.  The atmosphere looked so perfect for the story – District 13, the Capitol, everywhere – and the special effects, as I just mentioned, were beautiful.  I almost regret not seeing it in 3D, but if I had, I doubt I would have been able to enjoy it as much due to the awkwardness of wearing 3D glasses over my normal glasses.

And now, for the final rating.  For an almost spot-on story and the greatest effects I’ve seen in a movie all year, I give this movie four and a half stars out of five.  I took a half star away for the slight changes to the story, but other than those tiny discontinuities, there was nothing wrong with this movie.  I recommend it to anyone who even partially liked the books and/or other movies.

I hope this was helpful to you.  Please, I’d love to hear what you think!  Leave a rating at the top of the page or, if you have a WordPress account, a like if you really loved it.  Comments are always appreciated – give feedback and criticism, and, if you like, suggest a post you’d like to see from TFG in the future.

Thanks for reading!

~ Summer